Game Preview - Wolverhampton Wanderers (a)

WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND - APRIL 23: danny Murphy of Fulham is subbed as Wolves manager Mick McCarthy looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Fulham at Molineux on April 23, 2011 in Wolverhampton, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

At the time it may have appeared commendable, but with the sanctity of retrospection, perhaps Danny Murphy's criticisms were, at best, unfounded, when he set upon the Premier League's 'bad boys', Stoke, Wolves and Blackburn Rovers last year. Our captain has reportedly apologised for his comments and, although it won't clear the air as far as Wolves fans are concerned, there is no doubting it's the right move to make.

The withdrawal in stance is also, however, a sign of weakness when it comes to human nature - something I'm sure we can agree Danny Murphy is anything but famous for. Maybe, in his old age, our former Liverpool man is becoming somewhat of a soft touch, a pushover, hell, he could even be a softie.

Diatribe, though, will still fly his way throughout the whole campaign, and the slurs won't come purely from opposition quarters - our own fans are seemingly tiring of his weary legs. 

No doubt though, when the tide appears to be against him at its peak this weekend, Murphy will, yet again, produce a display that only experience and general craftsmanship can offer.

Wolves play their inaugural home game of the 2011/12 season when we visit at 2pm tomorrow and their manager, a man we know well and love to hate, Mick McCarthy, is citing our visit as the perfect opportunity for a rare opening double for the Midlands side. It's a feat they haven't achieved since 1998, so it's perhaps understandable why the Irishman is desperate to get out of the starting blocks at a speed even the top four would be envious of.

McCarthy's men put in a fine display when defeating Blackburn at Ewood Park on the opening day, Fletcher and Ward getting the goals in a 2-1 win. The victory was considerably more impressive given that only three other clubs actually managed to bag three points from the opening fixtures.

We were, unfortunately, one of the abundance of teams who undermined the opening day spectacle, holding Aston Villa to a decent 0-0 draw. Andy Johnson and Bobby Zamora linked well throughout the game but opposition goalkeeper, Shay Given, undoubtedly stole the show and trekked back the Midlands with a deserved clean sheet.

Previous meetings between us have proven to be, at a minimum, feisty, if not quite providing a festival of goals. Last season's affair at Craven Cottage has been commemorated more for the repugnant injury inflicted, by accident it must be stated, upon Bobby Zamora than the spectacle of the game itself. Moussa Dembele arguably stole the show, producing a display that would prove to keep in well within our hearts for the impending year.

The return tie at Molyneux was, if anything, less dramatic. Andy Johnson provided a suitable spark to a game that wasn't bland but wasn't thrilling. He was only on the pitch for 18 seconds before grabbing an equaliser, which most expectedly set the away fans into raptures.

Wolves have little to worry about on the injury front, Richard Stearman returning from an injury which required attention at Blackburn last Saturday.

Fulham, however, still have to deal with the absence of Simon Davies and Bjorn Helge Riise, but thankfully have no further concerns after the midweek win over Dnipro. 

Score Prediction: Wolves 1 - 1 Fulham

Predicted Line-Up: Schwarzer; Riise, Hangeland, Senderos, Hughes; Dempsey, Murphy, Etuhu, Duff; Zamora, Johnson

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